We rarely look or feel better than when we leave the salon. Unfortunately, that feeling begins to fade through the week as your polish fades as well. But there are a lot of things you can do at home to care for your nails in-between salon visits. These little acts will keep your manicure look fresh and your self-esteem high. They’ll also keep your nails healthy, which is even more important.

1. Take Extra Care To Protect Your Nails Immediately Following A Manicure

The manicure isn’t necessarily complete just because you’ve stepped out of the office. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is immediately washing your hands after leaving. This can loosen the polish and diminish the lifespan of your new manicure. Keep in mind that it can take up to 12 hours total for some types of lacquer to harden. During that time, you want to avoid water and heat.

What’s one of the major sources of heat and water that you might encounter on any given day? The answer is the kitchen sink. Try to get any chores or dishes out of the way before getting your nails done. Once the manicure is complete consider a day off. This is the best way to guarantee long-lasting results.

On a related note, it’s always a good idea to wear gloves when washing the dishes or cleaning anything with chemicals. It doesn’t take long for a sink full of hot water and soap to weaken the foundation of the nail. Meanwhile, you’re adding a layer of dirt to the nail that will take further cleaning to remove.

2. Think About Your Diet

Need one more excuse to start a new diet? How about growing strong, healthy nails? Your diet affects so many aspects of your life outside of your weight. Your fingernail health is just one of those things. As an added bonus, a healthy diet can improve the appearance of your skin and hair.

Increasing proteins and increasing related vitamins should be at the top of your list. Your fingernails are made entirely of proteins. By adding more healthy sources of protein, such as fish or nuts, to your diet, you’re providing your body with more fuel for healthy nails. Certain vitamins, like Vitamin E, help improve the processes necessary for growing healthy nails. Adding both of these to your diet in the form of supplements or meals shouldn’t be difficult.

Blueberries are a great fruit when it comes to fingernail health. Not only are they loaded with healthy nutrients and vitamins, but they are also a powerful source of antioxidants. Free radicals in the body cause damage to a variety of cells, including cells in hair and nails. The antioxidants found in blueberries help protect the body against the free radicals and the damage they cause.

3. Don’t Skip Coats When Working From Home

If you’re doing your nails at home between manicure visits, you don’t want to make the work any harder by damaging your nails. One of the easiest ways to damage your nails at home is by applying polish to the nail without first applying a base coat.

The base coat serves two purposes. First, as mentioned, it protects the nail from damage or discoloration that the polish can cause. Second, the base coat helps improve the appearance of the polish. A single layer of base coat will cause the polish to become more opaque and noticeable.

The final layer you don’t want to skip is the topcoat. The job of the topcoat is to seal in the colors of the previous layers and provide a protective shield. The manicurist will apply a layer of topcoat at the salon, but that coating won’t last forever. You should reapply a new topcoat every two or three days if you want to maintain the look as long as possible.

4. Make Repairs Along The Way

Even the best-laid plans often fail. No matter how much you plan to protect your nails after leaving the salon accidents are bound to happen. That’s why you need to be prepared to make repairs along the way. An easy way to make this possible is by purchasing the same nail polish that they used at the salon. You can easily fix small breaks and cracks knowing you have an identical color.

Of course, you don’t have to break the bank on an expensive salon polish just to cover the occasional chip. You certainly don’t need to go through the trouble of taking all the polish off either. Just find a polish at the store that is as close in color as possible. Most people are not going to notice a small coverup unless they are very close to the nail.

It’s possible to do the same with a gel manicure. But, some experts suggest returning to the salon to fix a chipped nail if you have a gel manicure. Once chipped, the gel becomes much easier to chip in the future. The damage could spread quickly or the gel could lift from the nail entirely.

5. Pay Attention To Your Cuticles

In an ideal world, dermatologists would recommend leaving the cuticle alone entirely. The cuticle serves a very important job outside of how it makes the nail look. The cuticle forms a type of seal at the base of the nail. This seal prevents debris and bacteria from entering the area and causing an infection. When you cut or remove a cuticle you are damaging this natural layer of protection and increasing your risk of damage.

But, some minor cuticle maintenance can help along the way. Many experts recommend the use of a gentle cuticle oil. These oils are made with ingredients that can penetrate deep beyond the layers of polish, nail, and skin. Cuticle oil can be applied daily and its benefits will generally increase with time.

Finally, if you are hoping for less cuticle over your nail, you can gently push back on the cuticle following a shower or bath. This is a much safer option compared to cutting a cuticle. They even make specialized devices called cuticle pushers for this purpose.

6. Try To Limit The Bad Habits

There are several bad habits that many people have which are detrimental to the health of your nails. That’s not including the bigger bad habits like smoking or alcohol, which can have a variety of negative health consequences. No. These are simple habits that we often do when we feel nervous, embarrassed, or angry.

A very common bad habit that people have is chipping away at a layer of polish. This usually starts when a single, small chip appears in the paint. From that point forward, you begin to chip away at the spot until you’ve eventually removed all the polish. Not only is this bad news for your hard-earned manicure, but it actually weakens and damages the nail beneath.

The cuticles are another place people often pick at when they should simply leave it alone. It’s just a tiny piece of skin that always seems to be in the way. This bad habit can become second nature after a few years. You may not even notice yourself picking away while someone is talking. Trying to catch and stop habits like these can be difficult but your nails will thank you.

7. Keep Fingernail Health A Main Priority

We all want to have long, beautiful nails. So much so that it’s easy for you to place the appearance or length of your nails above their actual health. This is a serious mistake that many people have come to regret. Nail health should always be the top priority.

Many dermatologists recommend sticking with a shorter length nail whenever possible. A shorter nail is much easier to maintain and its less likely to suffer any sort of serious damage. A shorter nail can look much cleaner and more organized as well. Just make sure that all the nails are kept at the same length.

8. Know What To Look For

One of the smartest moves you can make is arming yourself with the necessary knowledge. More specifically, learning how to diagnose the health of your nails at home. If you know the warning signs of unhealthy nails, then you can alert your dermatologists at the first signs of a problem. Recognizing the signs of healthy nails is equally as important.

A few signs of an unhealthy nail include tiny white spots on the nails, splitting or peeling nails, and swollen skin around the nails. Most of these are warning signs of bad habits. Other, such as an irregularly shaped nail, could be a sign of something more serious like an iron deficiency.

The signs of healthy nails are all the things that you look for right after leaving the salon. White-tipped nails at even length, uniform cuticles across all nails, nail plates with an opaque pink and white color. The visible signs of a healthy nail will greatly improve the appearance of your manicure. Just another reason to keep up with proper fingernail health between your appointments.

9. Have The Tools And Know When To Use Them

We’re not saying you need to build your own salon at home, but there are a handful of nail care tools that you should always keep handy. We’ve already covered a couple of these, such as repair polish and a cuticle pusher, but there are still a few more worth covering. The most important and obvious of all is a pair of fingernail clippers.

Your nails need to be trimmed on a regular schedule to maintain a uniform appearance. Most experts agree that clipping your nails once every two weeks is usually best. But, it’s possible your nails will respond differently. You may need to increase or decrease the frequency slightly. At any rate, don’t wait for manicure appointments to clip your nails.

A nail file is another important tool to keep handy at all times. It’s particularly useful for people who live an active life or who have a hands-on job. A nail file is the perfect tool for sanding away any rough spots or minor points of damage. Using a file is extremely easy. You simply work the file in a uniform direction with the nail’s natural grain. Investing in a high-quality glass nail file instead of the cheap, throwaway alternatives is advised.

Finally, keep some cleaning supplies specifically for your nail tools. Your nails need to stay free from infection if they’re going to remain healthy and beautiful. That requires regularly cleaning the tools you use to clip, scrub, and push your nails. You can easily clean these tools with soap and water or buy special cleaning supplies.

10. Stop Biting Those Nails

We’ve already covered a few bad habits, but nail-biting is so bad that it deserves a topic of its own. Millions of people across the globe bite their nails on a daily basis without paying the act much attention. It’s one of the toughest habits to quit because it is extremely difficult to catch yourself in the act. There are many possible triggers, such as anxiety or boredom. It’s good to learn what triggers cause you to begin biting.

If you can stop yourself before you begin biting your nails, then you can quickly replace the activity with something less destructive. Which replacement activity will work for you may be unique. Some people find comfort with a stress ball. Other people are able to distract themselves with a fidget spinner. You may even be able to find something a little better to chew on like some beef jerky. Just find something that works and stop biting your nails.

Use these ten tips to care for your nails between your salon visits and increase your fingernail health. They’re simple, affordable, and will make a world of difference. You might even realize you add an extra week or two between appointments.

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